Tue, Mar 20, 2007 - Page 1 News List

NCC gives in to pressure on Wii, permits imports

By Jackie Lin and Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Travelers are now allowed to bring Wii game consoles into the country and will not risk having them confiscated, customs officials say.

Consumers have complained about not being allowed to bring the popular game consoles, which are manufactured by Japanese company Nintendo, because they have not been certified by the National Communications Commission (NCC). The NCC is responsible for ensuring that electronics products do not pose health hazards or interfere with the nation's telecommunications systems.

Certification is deemed necessary as the Wii uses Bluetooth connectivity and motion sensors to allow gamers to play games such as virtual tennis, golf or baseball with a wireless controller.

However, public calls for lenience have persuaded the NCC to relax its restrictions.

Travelers will now be permitted to bring in consoles as long as they have either NCC certification labels or other certification, said Chien Liang-chi (簡良機), Directorate General of Customs director-general, at a press briefing yesterday.

If their consoles have no form of certification, travelers will be able to fill in an application form at the airport, he added.

However, tourists carrying more than two Wiis will have to pay a 5 percent value-added tax (VAT) in accordance with customs regulations, which set NT$20,000 as the tax-free threshold.

With Wii consoles selling at about NT$7,000, travelers will have to pay NT$50 in VAT for every third console they bring into the country.

As of noon yesterday, 69 Wiis had been impounded. It is expected that the consoles will be reclaimed in the next two days, said Jao Ping (饒平), director of the collection and procedures department at the Directorate General of Customs.

Some would-be Wii-owners said they had not been informed of the change of policy and were frustrated with the hassle they had experienced.

NCC spokesperson Howard Shyr (石世豪) said that the government, by law, is required to regulate the use of electronics equipment and were not targeting the Wii.

"There was an incident in the past where the use of wireless microphones near the airport nearly affected aviation safety," Shyr said, "Unexpected consequences might occur with unregulated products."

Users who bring Wiis into the country will not be penalized, he said.

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